Northlane and In Hearts Wake’s dual-headline tour began in Perth over the weekend.
Touring to promote their intriguing new collaborative Equinox EP. In light of the chaotic refugee crisis engulfing the Middle East, the bands and longtime friends collaborated to produce three epic songs with an admirable message of hope and understanding, songs worth realising in a live show. And so with the addition of supports Ocean Grove and Hands Like Houses a tour was announced. It was to be an artistic melting pot of national hardcore royalty unfolding live onstage and a triumph for the Australian Heavy scene.
To open such a momentous evening, Perth fans were treated to a fittingly special opening performance from young guns Ocean Grove, who were celebrating their first show since being signed to UNFD. The Melbourne four piece emerge from the wings in eclectic dress. Despite a few eyebrows raised at the Adidas tracksuits and overalls, Ocean Grove waste no time in establishing themselves as no-nonsense Aussie hardcore. Beefy bass and primal drum fills, metallic guitar grunts and roaring vocals all neatly tucked in at the edges to deliver a taught, streamlined punch to the face. They lay this down in a pretty relentless barrage with the most original asset delivered in the vocal dueling between frontman Luke Holmes and the grating prog rasp of bassist Dale Tanner. Their on-stage confidence is in its infancy but their enthusiasm is admirable, throwing the growing energy of the room right back into the crowd. Ocean Grove are a band beginning to make a serious name for themselves in Australia, and their live show explains why.
The second support of the tour came from Canberra heavyweights Hands Like Houses. The jet setting Canberra outfit have been killing it worldwide lately, joining the bill immediately after a headline tour of the UK and before that, supporting Enter Shikari across North America. Hands Like Houses balance on the borders between melodic metalcore and Pop Punk, but a refreshing dose of alt-rock was present in their look and sound this evening in Perth. Perhaps something to do with their new album Dissonants.
Hands Like Houses bring with them an organic appeal as they step on stage. Barefooted, mopheaded and joyfully thrashing around from the starting gun, the band are naturally genuine with a heart on sleeve brand of songwriting to match. They bring the urgency and connection to whip the main room into life again. This band were a good choice of support for Northlane. The super human vocal abilities of frontman Trenton Woodley are easily comparable to Northlane’s Marcus Bridge, unloading an arsenal of keening wails and thunderous yells upon his audience. Jet-lagged or not, it was hard to emerge unimpressed by the elemental appearance and immersive heavy rock of Hands Like Houses.
The third set of the night seemed to be what the rabid, near capacity Metros crowd had been waiting for. In Hearts Wake, the band that will break your heart with a chorus then break your spine with a breakdown. Jake Taylor stormed into view and promptly crushed a rendition of “SURVIVAL.” The accomplished frontman has incredible chops as a vocalist and a rare knack for spinning a room into a frenzy. This set was possibly the best received of the night with one of the loosest pits I have seen. The depth and sincerity in this band comes from the chemistry in the vocals. Taylor held down the room with his dominating charisma, but it was the magnetism of bassist Kyle Erich that gifted them the great singalongs that had fans screaming lyrics from front to back. The delicate and intricate “Wildflower” was the most memorable performance. Erich’s Emotive vocals sailed over the swelling track and an important moment of sincerity is witnessed, coupled with vibrant visuals and excelling lighting. As the song crescendoed into a passionate chorus, it was true testament to the band to gauge such a range of mood and feeling in just a few minutes. In Hearts Wake posses an emotive breadth that doesn’t come around often in a metal band, a quality that has seen them rise quickly and will see them rise even further.
Then without a word of warning, In Hearts Wake quickly exit. Brushing shoulders with Northlane as they launch onto the stage. While a pang of unrest may still sting diehard fans seeing Northlane perform without former vocalist Adrian Fitipaldes, Marcus Bridge is the perfect frontman replacement. Emerging like a specter in a long black coat, Bridge fearlessly launched into their 2011 breakout single “Dispossesion” with authenticity and justice. The trademarks of Northlane’s sound are best enjoyed live. Rapid fire syncopation, dizzying lead parts and visionary lyricism. Dense, technical and atmospheric metal. Renowned for some of the best live sound ever heard, Northlane filled the room with world class mix of proggy goodness. “Quantum Flux” was the highlight. The sheer musicianship of this monolithic composition is so impressive you’d forget they wrote a chorus you can sing along to. Every member is so ingrained in the performance it’s hard to tell whether this a great show for them or “just another day at the office”. As the last few singles off 2015‘s Node are recited you get a feeling Northlane have finally found peace in their lineup and sound and are ready to take it to the next level.
In the following hour The Equinox Tour entered a realm of it’s own. Northlane promptly exited and In Hearts Wake returned to inflict another 20 minute set, this one leaning heavily on their deliciously Parkway-esqe earlier repertoire. Northlane came back and burned through 20 minutes of favourites, with Marcus Bridge fluidly transitioning through the bands catalogue, looking utterly in his element on every track. Both bands invited Luke Holmes of Ocean Grove back on stage for a number. Northlane exited once again and finally the collaboration everyone had been crossing their fingers for took place. A full band of the newly dubbed “Northwake” assembled and played the Equinox EP in its entirety; the room erupted. The show was closed with the only song that could, the song that perhaps this entire tour has stemmed from, “Refuge”. The resulting breakdown was detonating, the audience surged with such energy you’d think the walls would move.
And so the bands faded into a void of ambience and blue light, only to be drowned out by the audience’s applause. Two bands in their prime combining deep messages for the good of humanity and finally enjoying the success they deserve. Northlane, sitting atop their throne as our heavy Prog masters, preaching divine unity and spiritual freedom. In Hearts Wake, the kids from Byron Bay pushing environmental consciousness finally established as international Hardcore heroes. Both bands at the forefront of Australia’s heavy scene and it’s future. I implore anyone in a city this tour is covering to drop what you’re doing and watch this show. Inspired, innovative and wild. The Equinox Tour was one of the most memorable nights of Australian music I have ever witnessed.